Tag: Phoenix AZ


Comprised of duo Mickey and Jesse Pangburn, the Phoenix-based indie electro pop duo MRCH can trace their origins to when the duo met while studying in Prescott, AZ — and as the story, the duo approached a sparsely populated jazz focus from radically different tracks: Jesse came from a technical background and was a fan of the the dense sonic textures of prog rock and metal while Mickey married complex jazz theory with a deep knowledge of 80s TV and pop culture. Initially, the duo, who spent years in the Phoenix rock scene, built up a strong local profile and over he course of a few years, started to receive national attention with praise from major media outlets including CMJThe Guardian and Consequence of Sound, as well as placements on TV series like ShamelessVampire Diaries and Search Party among others.

2017’s full-length effort Reactions touched upon themes of life changes, love and the loss of innocence and found the duo pushing their sound towards much more brooding territory with lead single “My Mistake” being featured on 13 Reasons Why. As Mickey Pangburn explains in press notes, “Last year and 2017 were so hard, personally. Family health issues and things that I thought I would be older for when they happened . . . All of this amidst the political climate we are in. Circumstances haven’t changed, but our outlook has. I feel more optimistic than I have in a long time. These songs are coming from a fun lace — not in a poppy, light way, but in a brighter view of the light guiding our writing processes.”

Centered by shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thumping beats, ethereal vocals, thumping polyrhythm and a soaring hook, the Phoenix duo’s latest single “Some Days” is a hopeful song; the sort of song that reflects narrators, who finally see a sunny day after some painful and dark days — and are actively trying to look forward towards the future. As Mickey Pangburn explains the song “is [a] step into the light. A reigning of some sense of anticipation.  A warm look back on where all our dreams came from and an honest, hopeful look forward. It could be interpreted as an airy love song . . . but it’s really about any deep love we have (be it [a] person, or as in our case — an idea).”




New Video: Mexican-Panamanian Singer Songwriter and Multi-instrumentalist Michelle Blades Releases a Topical Post Punk Anthem

Michelle Blades is a Mexican-Panamanian singer/songwriter and self-taught multi-instrumentalist, who grew up in a family of salsa musicians — and as a result, a young Blades soaked up notions of her heritage, studio life and production. When Blades was seven, her family fled Panama as a result of the vestiges of violence and unrest left by Manuel Noriega, eventually relocating to Miami, where they all learned English and lived in different recording studios and apartments. 

Ironically, music was all but forbidden at home and many of Blades’ artistic aspirations were halted by the family patriarch until she moved out when she turned 16. She then spent time juggling a number of different jobs including — being a journalist for the local CBS affiliate, producing a biweekly show, Focus on South Florida, selling smoothes, working for MIA Skatepark, and pursuing a passion for film and video by producing skate videos for her website 2TEN AM Productions. Interestingly, this love of film would wind up being important for her aspirations and her career, as it paved the way for her to direct and produce music videos for several artists. 

After buying a ukulele with her first paycheck, Blades relocated to Arizona, where she immersed herself in Phoenix’s and Tempe’s DIY scenes, learning guitar, drums, synths and bass, eventually recording and releases EPs under her own name and with the noise punk trio North Dakota. Along the way, Camaraderie Limited Records, a small Paris-based label invited Blades to go on a month-long tour of house shows and while discovering Europe for the first time, she also made friends, who would change her life. As the story goes, during her third tour of France, Blades befriended the team at Midnight Special Records — and it prompted a move to Paris, where she created the bulk of her work to date, collaborating with the label and artists in a familial sort of collective of like-minded souls. 

Since relocating to Paris, Blades has been rather prolific as she has released 2015’s Ataraxia, 2016’s Polylust EP, and 2017’s Premature Love Songs EP, written music and arrangements for Laure Briard, played bass in Fishbach, put together a Transatlantic band Michelle Blades y Los Machetes, and directed videos for Clea Vincent’s “Retiens mon desir” and “Chateau Perdu” among a list of others. 

Slated for a March 29, 2019 release, Blades’ forthcoming album Visitor continues the Mexican-Panamanian multi-disciplinary artist, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s ongoing collaboration with Midnight Special Records. The forthcoming album’s third and latest single “Politic” is a remarkably topical song that to my ears sounds like a seamless synthesis of campy B52s-like garage rock/garage pop, angular and neurotic More Songs About Food and Buildings era Talking Heads-like post punk and Fever to Tell-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs as the song is centered around arpeggiated synths, looping garage rock guitar lines, a propulsive groove, an infectious hook and lyrics delivered in wild yelps, squeals and howls. At its core, the song expresses an anxious, existential frustration — with everything. The recently released video is centered around live footage of Blades and her backing band performing the song shot with trippy filters and colors and strobe lights galore. 

Comprised of Rob Withem (guitar, vocals), Greg Markov (bass) and Thom Walsh (drums), the Phoenix, AZ-based indie rock trio Fine China can trace their origins back to 1997. And soon after their formation, the trio released their first two EPs and a 7 inch through the Southern California-based indie label Velvet Blue Music. The Phoenix-based indie rock act went on to release three more full-length efforts, including 2005’s critically applauded The Jaws of Life, which also had material featured in several TV shows.

Late 2016 saw the 12′ vinyl re-issue of their critically acclaimed The Jaws of Lifewhich interestingly enough saw the release of a bonus track to coincide with a 10 year reunion show; in fact, the bonus was met with critical applause and as a result, the vinyl re-issue quickly sold out. Building upon the growing buzz that surrounded the band again, the band’s first release in 12 years Not Thrilled finds the band returning to their original label home, Velvet Blue Music, who released their debut effort over 20 years ago. Slated for a February 23, 2018 release, the material on their forthcoming album was recorded in Rob Withem’s home studio and mixed by Bob Hoag, their longtime producer and engineer at Flying Blanket Recording in Mesa, AZ.

“Anyone Else,” the first official single off the new album will further cement the band’s long-held reputation for crafting a warmly familiar, shimmering, 120 Minutes-era guitar pop sound with an anthemic hook — and although the band’s Withem says in press notes that “I wanted a sound that harkened back to singles from the mid to late 80s that I heard on the radio as a kid — stuff like Don Henley and Dire Straights. But root it in an elegant guitar pop sound, like XTC or Crowded House,” the song (to my ears, at least) reminds me quite a bit more of The Smiths, which isn’t a bad thing to go for.


New Video: Introducing the Breezy and Self-Assured Pop of Up-and-Coming Phoenix-born Los Angeles-based Artist Upsahl

Growing up in a deeply musical family, the 18 year old, up-and-coming, Phoenix, AZ-born and Los Angeles, CA-based pop artist Taylor Upsahl, who writes and performs under the mononymic moniker Upsahl, started playing guitar and piano when she had turned 5, and by the time she was 14, she had written and released a self-titled EP, which caught attention across the local music scene for material that was influenced by The Shins, Spoon, Lorde and Beyonce among others. In 2015, she pieced together a band, and then wrote and self-produced her full-length debut Viscerotonic. 

Upsahl’s third full-length album Unfamiliar Light was released earlier this year to critical praise from the likes of Phoenix New Times, who had written that the album was a “breath of fresh air” and that fans will be “blown away by the quantum leap in sound and vision,” and when you hear album single “Can You Hear Me Now,” which was released last month to praise from Nylon, who called the song a “a girl-power anthem you’ll want to play on repeat all summer long,” you’ll see — er, hear — why the young, Phoenix-born, Los Angeles-based artist has been dominating the blogosphere: produced by Max Frost, the single which features strummed guitar, boom bap beats, swirling electronics, undulating synths and chiming percussion reveals an artist, who is self-assured and confident beyond her years and perhaps more important, an artist who can craft an mischievously infectious, radio-friendly hook. But underneath the breezy and infectious surface is a message rooted on resilience and the recognition that a failing relationship isn’t the end of the world; that in fact, it could be an opportunity to recognize that the listener can and should be treated in a way that they deserve. 

Directed by Matty Steinkamp of Sundawg Media, the recently released video for “Can You Hear Me Now” features the up-and-coming pop artist with a group of friends and associates, dancing and goofing off in a number of neon-colored set ups; but underneath the surface is the fact that everyone is making the best of the situations in front of them. And while clearly nodding at Taylor Swift, the video reveals a young woman, who is quirky, coquettish, incredibly self-assured and self-possessed. 

Perhaps best known for his stints as the frontman and primary songwriter of art rock acts The Curious Digit, Manishevitz and Sonoi over the past two decades, singer/songwriter Adam Busch‘s solo debut effort, River of Bricks was released last Friday. As the story goes, Busch began writing the material that would comprise River of Bricks while on a hiatus from music to spend time raising his newborn son.

And although Busch intended the hiatus to be about the domestic life, the time away was an opportunity to try out new ideas without the external pressure of having to produce material for an ensemble — and I would also presume that it allowed him an opportunity to create something carte blanche, without the pressure of having to write a song with a band’s established reputation for a particular sound or approach in mind either. In any case, as the story goes many of the songs emerged while Busch was studying guitar with with African music scholar Nathaniel Braddock, who began teaching Busch a variety of finger styles including African. American Primitive, as well as British folk.

Recording began during the Spring of 2013 in Chicago and continued in Phoenix with Busch’s longtime collaborator and Boxhead Ensemble founder Michael Krassner, and features contributions from several members of Manishevtiz, as well as percussion from Joe Adamik, who’s best known for his work with Califone and Iron and Wine; guitar, bass and keyboards from Wil Hendricks of Boxhead Ensemble; cellist Fred Longberg-Holm; and Justin Amolsch on French horn.

River of Bricks‘ latest single “Tiger” is comprised of a rather stark arrangement of drums and Busch accompanying his vocals with guitar. Sonically, the single sounds as though it were informed by Arabic music, psychedelia and jazz in a song that’s intimate and seems inspired by lonely contemplation of life’s eternally confounding mysteries. And as a result, the song has a hushed yet palpable feeling of awe and reverence paired with deeply imagistic lyrics. Simply put, it’s an effortlessly beautiful song that strikes me as being perfect for wandering around on a chilly but gorgeous Fall day.